BF 104: Financial Records

Setting up Systems to Track Your Profitability

What is it that you need to do to prepare for operating your business with sound financial information? Every business creates a great number of records in a variety of media. This course will concentrate on financial recordkeeping systems. Records can help determine the absolute and relative profitability of the farm business by identifying the strengths and weakness of the business. Thus, owners and managers can see strong points to capitalize on and weak points requiring corrective action.

Target Audience

New farmers with 1-5 years of experience who are seeking to set up or improve their financial record-keeping systems and learn to read their farm's fiscal health through financial statements.

Course Objectives

After completion of this course you will:

  • Identify what is needed to get organized and to produce useful financial information with less effort, using many of the available recordkeeping systems.
  • Understand how to use financial records to track and monitor your business performance.
  • Discover the requirements used by lending institutions to make loan determinations.
  • Learn to calculate a few simple business ratios that can be used to assist in business management decisions.
  • Be introduced to many available recordkeeping resources that address taxation, budgeting, and business planning.


The bulk of the course happens on your own time, with discussions, readings, and assignments in MOODLE, our virtual classroom. To add to the experience, webinars will be woven into the online interface of the course to allow you to meet on a weekly basis to learn from outside presenters, ask questions, and collaborate with other participants and the instructor to address your farm issues in real time. For this course, webinars are Mondays from 7-8:30pm EST beginning Jan. 9, 2012. If you miss one, they are always recorded and posted for later viewing.

You will also have access to one-on-one time with the instructors to help you with the logistics of setting up your record-keeping system.

Qualifying for Loans

If you are considering applying for a low-interest beginning farmer loan though the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA), completing this course may help you qualify, if you meet other eligibility requirements. For farmers in NY who have already applied for an FSA loan and been told they need borrower training credit, all of our courses are pre-approved to provide you with this credit, if you complete all course requirements. For more information, visit the FSA Beginning Farmer and Rancher Loans website.


The course is taught by Bonnie Collins, Cornell Cooperative Extension Educator in Oneida County, NY, and Stephen Hadcock, Cornell Cooperative Extension Educator in Columbia County, NY.


Jan 6, 2012 to Feb 14, 2012, with webinars on Mondays at 7pm EST beginning Jan 9.

Course Outline

  • Week 1: Introduction and Course Objectives
    Topics covered: introduction to Moodle (our on-line “classroom”), introductions to classmates, a financial management self-assessment tool, and learning the value of a good recordkeeping system.
  • Week 2: What does a Recordkeeping System Look Like?
    Topics covered: comparing computer and manual record-keeping systems, getting organized and starting the process.
  • Week 3: Setting up Financial Goals for a Farm Business.
    Topics covered: Planning with the end in mind; how to determine and establish smart goals.
  • Week 4: Financial Statement Components
    Topics covered: Transforming financial records into a balance sheet and income statement.
  • Week 5: Using Financial Statements for Management Strategies.
    Topics covered: Understanding how to interpret financial statements in order to determine when the farming operation strays off course and how to develop a corrective course of action.
  • Week 6: Wrap-up and Course Review
    Topics covered: Classmates will share what recordkeeping system they will use going forward and why?

Cost and Registration

Course fee is $175. Register online now! You will receive an email confirmation. About a week before the course start date, your instructors will contact you with course access details.

Leave a Reply



You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>